International Asia Design your own face and even book procedures on China's plastic surgery...

Design your own face and even book procedures on China’s plastic surgery apps

Plastic surgery apps like So-Young and GengMei provide potential patients with the ability to design their own looks, view before and after photos of others who have successfully had their surgery and book specific surgeries all from their mobile phones

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Want to look like your favourite comic book character, a particular actor or actress, or even an elf? With a selection of plastic surgery apps in China, customers can design their own faces and even book and pay for procedures in nearby clinics, just like that.
There has been a notable surge in plastic surgery in China, and the customers undergoing them are getting younger every year. Some are getting procedures such as nose jobs, lip fillers and the like, as early as 14 years old. What’s more, many have confessed to have gotten addicted to the whole process of perfecting their own look and have undergone more than 100 surgeries in some cases.
In 2014, more than 7 million Chinese people underwent plastic surgery, according to the China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics. In 2017, around 16.3 million had gone through cosmetic surgery, as shown by the data compiled by the Shanghai branch of Frost & Sullivan consultants.
More and more Chinese women are turning to cosmetic surgery to change their looks—bigger eyes, fuller lips, narrow noses, high cheekbones and long, skinny legs are so very in trend at the moment. Cosmetic surgery devotees seem to draw most of their inspiration from South Korea’s K-Pop, Japanese manga comics, and Western culture, but others are going further than that to design their own individualistic faces, even opting for elf-like features or a world-weary, lived-in look.

Photos: A Chinese woman’s plastic surgery transformation/YouTube screen grabs

Thanks to technology, getting plastic surgery in China is as easy as getting food delivered—except for the bit where you have to actually undergo the surgery. Plastic surgery apps like So-Young and GengMei have surfaced, providing never-before offered services—potential patients can design their own looks, view before and after photos of others who have successfully had their surgery, read reviews of surgeons, choose and book specific surgeries and even apply for credit to pay for them, all from their mobile phones.
“In China, it is very difficult to find reliable information on clinics, especially in smaller cities,” noted Tony DeGennaro, co-founder of Dragon Social, a Chinese market intelligence agency. After several medical scandals involving clinics found on the search engine Baidu, people are mistrustful of it, so the new apps now function as “unofficial directories of surgeons”.
China’s market is seeing a rise in patient-surgeon and patient-clinic matching apps. GengMei, the largest app of its kind, has 36 million users and has nearly 20,000 surgeons on its platform, a company spokeswoman confirmed to CNN.
So-Young app, which is backed by Tencent, has 2.47 million active users monthly and almost 6,000 surgeons in its database, according to a So-Young spokesperson.

Screen shots of pages inside the So-Young app/So-Young website

One of GengMei’s features is augmented reality, which can analyse a person’s face and grade it out of 100. The grade is based on criteria such as symmetry, liveliness and attractiveness. After issuing its grade, it makes suggestions for cosmetic surgery enhancements which will improve the face, like getting a nose job, lip fillers or eyelid work.
The apps seek to provide customers with all the medical information they need about their beauty choices, all from the comfort of one easy-to-navigate app. It even gives users access to micro-loans through Alipay’s lending service Huabei to fund the surgery.
Favourite looks discussed and ordered on the app are M-shaped upper and lower lips, with the lower lip having a dimple in the middle, and the “baby face” look, which is having a full and smooth round face, a prominent forehead, big eyes, a small button nose and a short chin.
Another popular topic addressed on GengMei is how to work with single eyelids without resorting to double eyelid surgery. The new method being used is to elongate the upper eyelid and make sure they’re not saggy or thick. Some skin is then removed from the inner and outer part of the eyelid. This procedure is called canthoplasty.
A good portion of women using these apps and undergoing plastic surgeries in China are young and living in the country’s second and third tier cities, and more than half are under 26 years old, according to a paper published by So-Young in 2019.
China’s young people are looking for ways to stand out in both the brutally competitive dating scene and job market, and they are willing to pay the price of pain to get a new face to do so. /TISG

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